We have examined the relative roles of the macrophage (M phi) plasma membrane receptor for the cleaved third complement component (iC3b, CR3) and of the mannosyl/fucosyl receptor (MFR) in binding and ingestion of Leishmania donovani. In the absence of exogenous complement, the binding and ingestion of promastigotes, which are good activators of the alternative complement pathway, were inhibited by the anti-CR3 monoclonal antibody M1/70, by the Fab portion of an anti-C3 antibody, or by the nucleophile, sodium salicyl hydroxamate, an inhibitor of C3 fixation. This provides strong evidence that M phi-derived, cleaved C3 (iC3b) present on the promastigote surface mediates binding to CR3. Equivalent inhibition of promastigote binding and ingestion was also observed using the soluble inhibitors of MFR activity, mannan or ribonuclease B. No additive effect for blocking the two M phi receptors simultaneously was observed. For amastigotes, which are poor activators of the alternative pathway, a lesser but nevertheless equivalent effect was observed for the three soluble inhibitors of CR3-mediated binding vs. the two soluble inhibitors of MFR-mediated binding. Modulation experiments in which either CR3 or MFR had been rendered inaccessible demonstrated that both receptors must be present on the segment of M phi membrane to which the parasite binds. The combined function of these two distinct M phi receptors may provide a general mechanism for recognition and ingestion of other pathogenic protozoa known to activate the alternative pathway.

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